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As Chris Christie mulls bid, rivals ready attacks

October 03, 2011|By James Oliphant
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reviews troops at a National Guard event. Christie gave no hints about his political plans during a speech to the guardsmen.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reviews troops at a National Guard event.… (Peter Ackerman / Asbury…)

How do you know that the buzz concerning Chris Christie joining the GOP presidential field has become significant? When his possible opponents start beating him up.

They hit him on both sides Sunday, even as reports have Christie close to a decision.


For the Record, Oct. 3: An earlier version of this online article quoted Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as saying of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, "I don't think it is too late for a candidate of his statute to decide to run." Barbour said "a candidate of his stature."

Democratic governors Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Martin O’Malley of Maryland, both acting as surrogates for the White House, assailed Christie’s jobs record in talk-show interviews. Meanwhile, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain suggested Christie isn’t conservative enough to be the GOP nominee.

Speaking on NBC’s "Meet the Press," Patrick pointed to the unemployment rate in New Jersey, where Christie has been governor since the beginning of last year. “I think unemployment in New Jersey is higher even than, than the national average. It's some unfinished work in New Jersey in order to have proof points for the case he wants to make,” Patrick said.

On CBS’ "Face the Nation," O’Malley chimed in. “When it comes to being effective at creating jobs, improving schools, and expanding opportunity, his record in New Jersey has not been a record of governing for effectiveness," he said. "His bond rating has been downgraded by two of the bond-rating agencies, his unemployment in New Jersey is one of the higher unemployment rates in the country at 9.4%. Last year, New Jersey created no net new jobs and his schools, because of the choices he’s made to cut education funding, have actually been declining in their national ranking.” (Watch video below.)

O’Malley suggested that the Christie speculation has more “entertainment value” than anything.

Christie this week is reportedly making a final, final, final decision on whether to mount a late-game presidential bid. And while his supporters like to compare Christie to Bill Clinton, who didn’t enter the Democratic race until October 1991, the decision by the state of Florida to move its primary to the end of the January undercuts that comparison.

In 1992, neither the Iowa caucuses nor the New Hampshire first-in-nation primary were held until February. But it looks increasingly likely this cycle, after Florida’s move, that both states will push their contests into January.

That would give Christie basically three months to put together a fundraising operation, a ground game, and a campaign schedule. And don’t forget that he has a state to run, one that he only took over more than a year ago.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, also appearing on "Face the Nation," said he didn’t think the short track would affect a Christie bid. “If he runs, he’ll have a big following,” Barbour said. “He’ll be a very strong candidate out of the chute. I don’t think it is too late for a candidate of his stature to decide to run. But I don’t know what he’s going to do.”

Added Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on NBC: "I just think whoever's going to get in needs to do it immediately. We've got 90 days till the caucuses start in Iowa."

Should Christie run, he’ll find a resurgent Herman Cain looking to protect his flank. On "Fox News Sunday," Cain said that Christie’s too much of a moderate to secure the GOP nomination.

 “I believe that a lot of conservatives once they know his position on those things that you delineated, they’re going to not be able to support him. I think that is absolutely a liability for him if he gets the race,” the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO said. “Most of the conservatives believe that we should enforce our borders. They do not believe people should be here without documentation. They do not believe global warming is a 'crisis' or a 'threat' — yes it might be a little bit out there but they don’t see it as a 'crisis' or a 'threat' and as you go right down the line, he’s going to turn off a lot of conservatives with those positions."

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